United Airlines is moving deeper into the flying taxi business. Not only has the airline plowed $15 million into Eve Air Mobility, it ordered 200 flying taxis and has an option for another 200. United expects to start receiving Eve's four-seater electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) as soon as 2026.
The company says its investment was spurred by both its confidence in the urban air mobility market and Eve's working relationship with Embraer. According to United, Embrarer is "a trusted aircraft manufacturer with a proven track record of building and certifying aircraft over the company's 53-year history." Embrarer previously worked with Uber on a flying taxi project that the latter eventually ditched.
Eve's flying taxi has conventional fixed wings, rotors and pushers with a design that United says favors safety, efficiency, reliability and certifiability. It's said to have a range of 60 miles and United added that the vehicle can "reduce noise levels by 90 percent compared to current conventional aircraft."
This isn't the first time United has reached an agreement with an eVTOL company. Last month, it put down a $10 million deposit with a different California-based one for 100 flying taxis. As such, the company has lined up as many as 500 flying taxis to add to its fleet.
United has set up a corporate venture fund with the aim of bolstering its ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets. Through the United Airlines Ventures fund, it has also invested in hydrogen fuel cell engines and sustainable fuel.
"Today, United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies," United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen said in a statement. "Together, we believe our suite of clean energy technologies will revolutionize air travel as we know it and serve as the catalyst for the aviation industry to move toward a sustainable future."